have I mentioned how much I hate snakes?

Sunday should have been a great day.

I had just accepted an offer from my new employer, making Sunday the last day of my life of leisure, and wanted to celebrate by doing something fun. I planned a trip to Cathedral Gorge State Park.

It should have been a great day.

The Snake had other plans.

I wrote, in Monday’s post, about how 2013, the Year of the Snake, was not particularly kind to me, and how glad I was to see it go. The snake had one last bite to deliver. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Cathedral Gorge has been described as a “mini Bryce Canyon”, which – if you’ve ever been to Bryce – means it has very big shoes to fill. I was skeptical as to why it wasn’t better known, if it was really ‘all that’; but at under 3 hours drive time, it was worth investigating. So off we went.

It was an easy, but desolate, drive. This is not a place you want to run out of gas.

Arriving at the park reminded me a bit of the Griswold family arriving at Wally-World; the place was like a ghost town. Thankfully, unlike Wally-World, it wasn’t closed.

Other than one family, in the process of packing up after their BBQ and heading out, we were the only people there.


This place was kind of a mini Bryce Canyon, with the emphasis being on mini.

Not only was the park much smaller in total area, but the height of the of the mountains and the depths of the canyons were much smaller. It was kind of like seeing the replicas of the Eiffel Tower at Paris, Las Vegas or the Statue of Liberty at New York, New York [two hotels on the Vegas Strip]. Close, but no cigar.

Still, the geological formations, cathedral-like spires and colourful canyons, remnants of an ancient lakebed, were just beautiful.

We started out by exploring the ‘caves’, just inside the entrance of the park. This area features tall spires, formed through millions of years of erosion, creating a series of slot canyons, laid out in a labyrinth; many of them so narrow you have to squeeze through sideways. Whenever we hit a dead-end, we just turned around and tried another slot canyon in this cool natural maze.

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After that we hit the first of two hiking trails, a short 1 mile hike to the Miller Point Overlook.

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Next we hiked the Juniper Draw trail, an easy 4 mile loop.

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It was just after 3:30 pm when we began the trip back home. Everything was normal. We considered stopping in Pioche, the last town we would encounter for the next 140 miles, but decided neither of us was all that hungry. And frankly, Pioche’s only restaurant didn’t look all that appetizing. So we drove towards Vegas.

Again, everything seemed normal.

We had nearly reached the I15, from the long drive on the lonely I93, and were just 40 minutes from home, when the car became possessed by a demon spirit.

I am not exaggerating.

Everything on the dashboard lit up.

The high beams turned on. The windshield wipers started going at the fastest speed possible. The front and rear defrosters turned on. The incessant sound of the right turn signal click-click-clicking. WTF was happening to our car? This went on for what seemed like hours. (Actual time = maybe 2 minutes.)

And then everything went dark.

The headlights went out. The tail-lights went out.

Mr. Enthusiasm tried to activate the hazard lights. No dice.


Since I was fresh out of Holy Water, I did the only other thing I could do. I screamed. Then I begged Mr. Enthusiasm to stop the car.

He calmly replied that he couldn’t stop in middle of a dark highway; especially since we had no 4-way flashers and no flares.

I implored him to slow down, at the very least, since it appeared Christine was driving herself. Again he shut me down, explaining that it wasn’t smart to slow down when other cars and trucks were barreling up from behind us at 70 MPH.

My heart pounded in my chest; my nails dug into the skin of my tightly clenched fists.

Oh Snake, you evil shit, you just had to deliver one last bite before leaving the building, huh? Bastard.

A moment later we noticed a brightly lit gas station/truck stop up head. YES! Talk about an oasis in the desert! This was the first sign of life in over 2 hours of driving, and was perfectly timed.

I cautiously exhaled.

Just as we came off the exit ramp, the engine went silent, all power was lost. I still can’t believe that we somehow managed to navigate the car to a curb directly across the street from the gas station. This was clearly the work of the Horse.

Mr. Enthusiasm popped the hood, donning one of two brand new headlamps recently acquired for hiking after dark. Useful things, these turned out to be. Anyway, while he pretended to know what he was doing under the hood, I hustled across the street to find a restroom. It’s a miracle I hadn’t soiled myself during those last terrifying minutes in the demon car.

As I made my way back to the car, something caught my eye.

At first I thought it was a dog, but soon realized I was looking at a coyote.

I froze, watching it as it crossed the street, meandering through parked transport trucks, and moving towards my husband. I thought, momentarily, about yelling out to warn him. But then I realized that might alert the coyote that I was lunging distance away.

I kept quiet.

Because coyotes do this:



Mr. Enthusiasm was on his own.

Eventually the beast sauntered into the brush, all smug and shit.

I seized the opportunity and ran to the car, jumping in and locking the door. Because who knew what else the Snake was capable of delivering my way?

The good folks at AAA eventually sent a tow-truck, and we made it home at 9:15 pm. The GPS had us arriving at 6:00 pm, before the demonic possession. But, hey, what’s a 3 hour delay in the grand scheme of things?

Especially when the other possible outcomes included death in a fiery car crash or being ripped apart by a rabid coyote.

So maybe the Snake got one last bite in, but it also provided me with some fodder for this blog. The Snake, it seems, has quite the sense of humour. Bastard.

Keep moving,

xoxo nancy

53 thoughts on “have I mentioned how much I hate snakes?

  1. I thought maybe a snake had got under the bonnet 😉 I love how that canyon is considered ‘mini’ by American standards! Although my parents have been to Bryce so I can see where you’re coming from!

  2. I’m going to Bryce and Zion in April. Any tips you can give me? I know I’ve read some posts where you wrote about these places. I’ll have to go back and look.

    • I actually haven’t written about Bryce or Zion, I don’t think, as I started the blog after I had visited both. Hmm…tips… There is a lot to see, so my advice would be to read up on the area as much as you can. If you are a hiker, search for ‘best hikes in X”. Trip Advisor may have some good reviews too. If you’re in the area, another great place to stop is Cedar Breaks National Monument. We didn’t have a lot of time there – but the views were out of this world! If memory serves, the oldest living thing in the state, a bristlecone pine, stands there. This thing was massive, and unbelievably beautiful. Something like 1,600 years old. Have fun on your trip — it really is a beautiful and humbling place to visit. Puts lots of things into perspective when you find yourself in a place so vast and daunting.

      • I probably just read a post where your mentioned the name or maybe I made it up!:) I do like to hike, but I’m not as experienced as you are and hope I will be able to keep up with the friend’s we’re going with. I’ve been walking our bridge to help get in better shape. I enjoy reading your blog.

      • Hi Debbie, thanks so much for visiting and your kind words! You’ll do just fine. Just remember to wear supportive shoes and go at your own pace. The altitude shouldn’t be too much an issue at Bryce or Zion, I don’t think either gets up much higher than 6,000 feet (although I could be wrong). Drink lots of water — don’t get dehydrated! The area is absolutely stunning and I’m sure you will be blown away. Enjoy!!

  3. I’m beginning to think hiking should be labelled a dangerous sport…! The car cutting out sounds terrying. So glad you’re both ok X

  4. WHAT?! That is insanity! Was there any diagnosis on the car?

    And that is why you should always just go for the death-defying big hikes — if you wimp out and take the easy path, the universe will just hurl another dangerous challenge in your face.

  5. OMG Nancy, what an experience! I’ve been through that part of Nevada and even spent one night in Pioche… If I close my eyes I can still see (and smell) the inside of the Motel, be very happy you passed on the one restaurant. 🙂

    • All things considered, Lisa, we were actually very lucky that day. More lucky than unlucky. We could have had the car trouble in the park or on any part of I93 between Pioche and the I93/I15 cutoff (desolate). We could have been in a spot with no cell service (most of the preceding area). I could have left my cell phone at home (luckily I don’t do that anymore after Turtlehead..). So many things could have gone much worse.

      I’ve gotta say though, when I saw that coyote, I just thought, Oh fuck off! REALLY? REALLY?? 🙂

  6. Well that was an adventure! I always tell my husband have no false allusions of sacrificing love from me… if we come across a bear/lion I am tripping you and running away… glad you made it home ok!

  7. Happy Chinese New Year….here’s to a powerful and renewing year of the Horse! I am jealous you live so close to so many beautiful hikes! Beautiful photos…hope your car is back on track now. 🙂

    • Happy Chinese New Year to you too! I’m so glad to see the Snake go, and am hopeful the Horse will be much more kind to me!

      I do consider myself very fortunate to be driving distance to so many awe-inspiring places. Lucky, indeed!

      The Saab is still in the Swedish imports specialty garage getting the demons exorcised. And we are still in a rental. Sigh. It’s only money, right? 😉

  8. You were very unlucky with the breakdown and then very lucky with the gas station! The Snake gave you that experience to create a good blog post. Double lucky! Great slide show. Say, who is that fit bird in the canyons?

    • Totally luck, all things considered. So many ways this could have been much worse. Any of that car trouble starting even 20-30 minutes sooner could have been disastrous: in the middle of nowhere and no cell coverage in the boonies.
      Ha! I’m a fit bird? YES!!! 🙂

  9. Nancy,

    My first thought about this road trip was wondering if it included the red Saab. The pictures answered that question. When the car started to fail, I thought, the problem is, it’s a Saab.


  10. I would have been terrified, too. I don’t keep my head too well when I sense danger! I’m so glad you made it to the gas station, of course. From hiking to coyote you had quite a day! It makes for an exciting story, but I’m sure you would rather have avoided it in the first place. The snake did bite!

  11. Phew! What a great ending, Nancy! Halfway into your story, I already saw you on a stretcher being hauled up to a Medivac helicopter after a massive attack by demon snakes in the desert…too many clues for my wild imagination. So relieved it was your car that was hauled …by AAA after the snake’s last prank. The snake is gone, long live the Horse!

  12. I’m glad that your encounter with THE SNAKE is finally at an end….and a very dramatic end it was!! I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have handled it very gracefully.
    The pictures however are amazing!!

    • It was a terrific little find! And while not on the scale of Bryce Canyon in Utah (about another 60-90 mins east of there), there’s something to be said for getting it all to ourselves. That was totally cool.

  13. Damn Nancy!!!! What’s next? 🙂 Who says exercising and staying healthy is boring or routine? Nothing you do EVER seems to be boring or routine! And I’m really glad you never let your fears keep you from getting your workout. But definitely time to put that snake to bed and get on the horse!!

    • The snake has been laid to rest. 🙂 Saddling up as we speak!

      I’m headed to LA tomorrow and then Irvine Tues and Wed (on biz). If I wasn’t on a schedule I’d try to zip over to PS to say hi. 🙂

  14. I was just going to ask you if you have encountered a coyote in one of your trips and there it was. LOL You live a dangerous life Nancy. I should come with you in one of your trips that way there will be 2 of us screaming. LOL
    Glad you and your husband are safe!

  15. Pingback: bottle caps, alien cows and a holiday road | my year[s] of sweat!

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